Recipe: Japanese Ozoni Soup

Although I will be 34 this year, this New Year’s is the first time I’ve made my own ozoni. Ozoni is a Japanese New Year’s soup that I can remember eating from small kid time, but I usually just eat soup other people prepare. From eating it through the years, I knew what the basics were, but I wasn’t sure about a recipe, so I asked around Twitter and Facebook. The responses I got and the articles I found online all seemed extremely basic. So although I got some helpful tips, I ended up deciding it was simple enough for me to just wing it. The traditional soup is made with dashi stock, but I love chicken stock, so I went with that, deciding that I would slow simmer the bones from the chicken thighs I bought after cutting all the meat off. First hiccup: I had bought boneless chicken. Oops!! With the bone boiling out the window, I just went with good old water and chicken bouillon. Since you want nice, soft pieces of chicken in your soup, you need to cut up thigh meat. After slicing it thinly, I added it to the stock. Most recipes I saw online only called for carrots and a green veggie, but I remember daikon and lotus in our family’s soup, so I bought both. I brought out my sakura and flower cutters and made pretty veggie shapes! I made a mistake and put these in too early, so they were really soft and falling apart by the time midnight came around. Next time I’ll add them to the soup at around...

Homemade New Year’s Mochi

The other day, I headed to the market to buy our New Year’s eve food with my list in hand. I got everything for ozoni (Japanese New Year’s soup) except for the mochi because although Foodland usually sells komochi, they didn’t have anything but chi chi dango. Unacceptable! I made plans to go to Nijiya Market to look for mochi later. Grandma J ended up coming over for dinner and she brought me some mochi from an old family friend. That night I fried up three and gobbled it up, not thinking to save some for the soup. Today when I went to Nijiya and bought two trays of komochi (this means small mochi). But they didn’t have the big kasane mochi, so I bought a bag of sweet rice to see if I could make my own mochi. There are machines that make mochi, but a quick search on Amazon told me they cost about $275. No thanks. I read that you can use a bread machine, but sometimes they break. Since I just got my bread machine, the heck with trying that. Breaking your bread machine a week after you get it sounds just like something I’d do. I also read you can use a KitchenAid mixer, but since I don’t own one of those either, it meant doing it by hand. Traditional old fashioned mochi pounding sessions use a giant stone mortar and a huge wooden mallet. Since I have neither and don’t desire to shell out bucks to buy them either, I figured it was basically the same thing to cook sweet rice and smash it...

Peanut Butter Fruit and Compulsive Tree Shopping

When we first moved into the house, me and Mr. Pikko took turns buying trees we wanted or thought were cool. In the end we had a lime, a Meyer lemon, a mountain apple (from my dad), an orange, a jaboticaba, a pomegranate, bananas, and a peanut butter fruit tree. The reason he bought the peanut butter tree was because Baby Girl can’t eat any nuts due to her being allergic to cashews. She used to love peanut butter toast in the morning so he thought it would be nice for her to at least have something that tastes like peanut butter. It took two freaking years for the tree to get big enough to bear fruit, so he picked some and at last we got to taste what we’d only been thinking about. They’re pretty small but it’s hard to tell from that photo, so here’s another for scale. He read you’re supposed to pick them as soon as they turn orange and since I just happened to notice them by chance, we’re not sure how long they were on the tree. We tried them and weren’t too impressed. The flesh was so hard it was almost nutty in not only flavor, but texture too. There wasn’t much to eat for each fruit either. The photo’s a bit blurry but you can see what it looks like. Kind of like a teeny tiny papaya with a single seed. Maybe when they’re first ripe they’re softer. I read on Wikipedia that people make jams out of this stuff, but I’m not sure I understand how. The only thing I...

Lilikoi Butter Deliciousness

Earlier this year, our lilikoi (pronounced lih-lee-koh-ee) vine gave us a handful of lilikois and I thought that was it because all the other flowers fell off and I thought there would be no more fruit. Months later, the vine is going crazy with fruit, so much that I have at least 60 from the last week! My mother-in-law had been asking about lilikoi butter, so Mr. Pikko asked me to make some for her. I’d never made it before or even tasted it, having mostly just drank passion orange juice or eaten the fruit by itself with sugar. The recipe looked simple enough, but it did have eggs, which made me all nervous because I always screw up cooking with eggs in a new recipe. Here’s the inside of a lilikoi. You have to get juice from this and since the juice is in little sacs surrounding the seeds, it’s actually quite difficult. Mr. Pikko said he read that you can use a blender on “the lowest setting” to get the juice without grinding the seeds, but my blender doesn’t go by numbers, so I had no idea what to do there. I ended up putting my strainer over my pyrex and scooping the seeds into that. After I’d cut and scooped about 4 fruits, I began mashing it with my pestle, but this got a little frustrating, so what I ended up doing was washing one of the lilikoi halves really well and then using it to press down on the pulp. That worked really well since it was the same shape as the strainer. It took about...

Making the Little Endless Cake

It feels like lately all I’ve been doing is “Making” posts, but ultimately, I think you guys enjoy them and opportunities keep coming up for me to do a huge project and then post about it so I just have to go with the flow of my projects. I have quite a few reviews pending and more recipe posts, but once I finish a massive cake project, I have motivation to get the photos out there so that I can share my latest work. The latest is Sandman! This cake was done for my dear hubby’s birthday. It’s not the first cake I’ve made for him, but it’s definitely the first elaborate cake I’ve made and I took 5 days to make it this time. When we’d first met in college, he loaned me his beloved graphic novels called The Sandman. I loved it and that was one of the starts of our relationship. Years ago, I came across an incredibly adorable piece of artwork by Jill Thompson called ‘The Little Endless’. She has written two children’s books about the Little Endless so far and most recently, she published Delirium’s Party: A Little Endless Storybook. I bought this for Mr. Pikko to go along with the cake. Anyway, here’s my cake journey for my hubby’s Little Endless cake. I started off making Dream, as he looked the most difficult with his wild black hair. I rolled thin spiky rolls of black fondant and cut off tips with a toothpick. I rounded out a head for him and rubbed some black around his head for hair background, then began to...

Making a Wilton Castle Cake

A couple months back while browsing on Amazon, I came across the Wilton Romantic Castle Cake Set and knew I had to give it a try for Baby Girl’s birthday party. We had the party yesterday and it was a crazy affair, with a total of 14 kids and a Double Cannon Blast Slide (though we bought a different, better model of the same thing from Sam’s Club). Anyway, here’s my account of the ordeal I went through to make this cake. First of all though, I should mention that making this cake is freaking expensive. To explain, to make the exact cake I made you will need: Wilton Romantic Castle Cake Set ($16.68, price has gone up since I bought it) 16″ cake boards ($10.19 at Ben Franklin) 6″ cake boards (5.99 at Ben Franklin) 6 x 2 Inch Round Aluminum Cake Pan ($11.14) White Candy Melts ($5.59 at Ben Franklin) Wilton White Cake Sparkles x2 ($4.79 at Ben Franklin) Wilton Artificial Clear Vanilla Extract ($2.99 at Ben Franklin) 10″ Round Cake Pan ($14.49 at Ben Franklin) Wilton Floral Collection 32-Piece Flower-Making Set ($21.99) #3 tip ($3.49 as a set) Wilton Plastic Dowel Rods ($3.99 at Ben Franklin; awful, awful product) Wilton Pure White Rolled Fondant x2 ($8.99 at Ben Franklin) 1 lb bag confectioner’s sugar x3 ($2.50 each) Wilton Icing Colors ($9.80) 3 box cake mixes ($3.00 each on sale) 9 eggs (about $3.00) 3 sticks butter (about $4.00) vegetable shortening sticks (about $4.00) All that comes out to about $159.40. Add in the 14 hours labor I put in and I’d have to charge like $250...